New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli blasted the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in an audit that found out-of-control spending.
The audit released Friday found that the budget for the shelter is significantly higher than those of other local animal shelters in terms of costs per animal, salaries and health services.
“The shelter’s finances and animal care issues have long been a concern of town residents,” DiNapoli said. “Our audit has shed much-needed light on several of the problems that plague the operation of this facility.”
The audit resulted from requests from animal activists, town residents and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who said the audit showed that the shelter was “a case study in mismanagement, poor record keeping, and budgetary incompetence.”
Rice said criminal charges are not expected following the probe.
“While these problems do not rise to the level of criminality, the Comptroller’s review found systemic problems that compromise the public’s confidence and could detract from the shelter’s overall mission and responsibility to its animal and the community,” she said.
The report stated that the average salary for the shelter’s 32 full-time staff was $79,247 and that total salary costs in Hempstead were $2.7 million. They compared this with the Town of Islip Animal Shelter budget of $820,076 on total salaries and Brookhaven’s $1.5 million.
According to DiNapoli, Hempstead could not justify $359,408 spent on overtime hours worked at the shelter from 2007 to 2011. He urged them to put it formal procedures on how to manage, document, approve and verify overtime.
The report also found that administrative costs did not match up to actual services and that supervisors failed to periodically review receipt forms and investigate or document any discrepancies.
The Town of Hempstead said in a statement that it already had implemented some of the changes and is currently working on a new financial procedure.
“By adopting the state Comptroller’s accounting methodology, the 2013 Town Budget reflects a $3.37 million reduction in the animal shelter’s budget,” the statement read. “Computerization upgrades, the implementation of a cost allocation analysis and the adoption of more stringent operational procedures are making the shelter more efficient and cost effective.”
They also stressed that the findings did not show any mistreatment of the animals.
“First and foremost, it is important to note that the report did NOT indicate any findings of mistreatment or substandard care of animals at the shelter,” the town said.
But, in March 2011, a disturbing 17-year-old video of former acting director Pat Horan surfaced. The video shows Horan and other shelter workers mocking a tuxedo kitten that they are about to euthanize, chanting, “kill the kitty, kill the kitty!”
The town reassigned Horan shortly after the video scandal and appointed a new director.
In addition to the video, three volunteer rescuers filed a lawsuit against the town, Murry, Horan and others after they were barred from the facility.